The girls are suddenly as big (and as hard) as basketballs? You can target shoot across the room? This is completely normal. “The mother’s hormones go through a radical change just after childbirth that causes milk production to increase significantly,” says Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA, author of Breastfeeding Solutions. And there’s more than just milk causing the congestion. “You’ve got extra blood and lymph in there too,” Mohrbacher says.
Pump a little
If you’re having problems with engorgement (aka big, sore, hard boobs) and you’re still painfully full after baby has nursed, she recommends using a breast pump to pump just a little to take the edge off. “Pumping just long enough to be comfortable will prevent you from getting mastitis, but won’t overstimulate your milk production,” she advises. In other words, don’t pump more than you need to, or your body will start making more to replenish your supply.
Lie back and relax (literally)
If baby is choking on your gushing river of milk, recline when you nurse. “Move your hips forward and lean back with baby’s whole body resting [tummy down] on yours, so your baby’s head is higher than the breast,” says Mohrbacher. “In this position, gravity makes milk flow more slowly for her.” (Bonus: Reclining also takes your own weight off your sore perineum.)
The baby-above-boob technique can also help if baby is having trouble latching on to your massive melons. Gravity is your friend.
Besides staying (somewhat) comfortable and giving baby plenty of time on your tatas, there isn’t really anything else you need to do. Just hang in there. “It takes a few weeks for the milk to stabilize to baby’s demand,” Mohrbacher says. You should be less engorged in a week or so, and expect your rack to further deflate around three to four weeks postpartum. “A lot of moms think this means their milk is going away,” warns Mohrbacher. “It isn’t. Even moms of twins and triplets with plenty of milk for all of their babies experience softer breasts starting around three or four weeks. You don’t keep that feeling of fullness forever.”
• Lean back when you’re nursing.
• Pump a tiny bit if you’re suffering.
• Wait it out.
• Don’t freak when your boobs finally soften up.
And if you freak out anyway? Reach out to a certified lactation consultant — she can help allay your fears and consult with you on any specific issues.
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